Confidence in ERA lost at La Trobe Uni
La Trobe University staff gathered across four campuses via video link to discuss La Trobe University's research plans and to a pass a motion condemning the adverse consequences upon Australian research that are occurring in the lead up to the next Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) evaluation.
Staff claimed the ERA would have severe implications for the institution's research capacity, highlighting the university's punitive attempts to restrict opportunities of numerous academic staff from engagement in research. La Trobe staff also expressed concern that ERA criteria are being used inappropriately to inform performance management, workload allocations, promotions, appointments and grant applications.
La Trobe Branch President Virginia Mansel Lees stated, 'Our membership is conscious of the important role ERA has to play in the assessment of research quality, but the adverse consequences that have resulted from institutions such as La Trobe anticipating the potential funding environment has led to ill-considered statements and proposals.
'Staff are not only being told to publish in "A" and "A star" ranked journals, but in some cases they are being told not to publish in "C" ranked journals, even if it is in their field of expertise. This is the University game playing in the ERA, and if this practice continues across the sector it may well damage the diversity and depth of Australian research.
'We are also concerned that valuable research on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues, community focused and anthropological research, areas studies especially research concentrating on Australia, interdisciplinary research and policy focused research will become increasingly unviable.'
NTEU National President Jeannie Rea added, 'The worrying implication for the sector is that ERA may have a hand in undermining academic freedom and malign the professional interests of university academics and researchers.'
La Trobe staff called upon the Federal Government to deal with identified the flaws in ERA before the commencement of the 2012 exercise through meaningful dialogue with staff and their representatives.
NTEU La Trobe Branch President Virginia Mansel Lees 0438 282 146
NTEU National President Jeannie Rea 0434 609 531